Monday, November 28, 2011

Trust me, it's steeper than it looks.

This was my fourth year at Jingle Cross in Iowa City. The races get bigger and better every year. I decided to race the Masters 35+ on Friday because it started at 4:15pm rather than 7:30pm for the Elite race. What can I tell you? - I'm a morning person and at 7:30pm I'm ready to relax, not race. Anyway, we had a couple of mud bogs to negotiate Friday but it was mostly a dry race. I started well, and Mark Savery and I had a good gap at the front of the race when, at the start of the third (I think...) lap, I accidentally followed a muddy rut straight into a bush at the edge of the course and stopped dead. Mark took off and that was that - I tried to chase but started making more mistakes and Mark just padded his lead.

Grabbing all the brakes I can on a steeper-than-it-looks downhill.  Photo: Mauro Heck
I might have enjoyed chasing Mark again on Saturday and Sunday, but I had signed up for the Elite races for both days. It rained Friday night and all day Saturday making the course a muddy mess - just the way I like it! I had a great start on Saturday but less than 30 seconds into the race I was bumped and fell in the fastest corner. I jumped right back on the bike but my left quadriceps were very sore and riders were shooting past me left and right. I slowly recovered and made it up as high as 13th place but with a cramping left quad I faded to 15th by the end.  Still, it was a lot of fun and it's a result I think I can be proud of.

Too much junk in the trunk made this steeper-than-it-looks uphill a leg breaker for me! Photo: Podium Insight
Sunday was a UCI C1 event and there was over $8000 in cash for the Elite race and a very strong field.  Several riders had opted to sit out Saturday's mud-fest and were fresh for Sunday's race. It had dried a bit but there was still plenty of mud and it was another challenging course. I felt good and was riding well, but it was only good enough for 20th on Sunday.

Suffering badly as I am about to jump back on the bike at the top of the run-up. Did I mention it's steeper than it looks? Notice how the spectators all appear to be leaning left? Photo: Mauro Heck

The super-challenging courses make Jingle Cross a special event. I'm already thinking about how I can prepare better for next year...

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